Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), also referred to as the Freedom Democratic Party, was an American
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In June 1963, African Americans attempted to cast votes in the Mississippi primary election but were prevented from doing so. This contest to determine Democratic candidates was essentially the only competitive race, as the state was a one-party jurisdiction. Unable to vote in the official election, they organized an alternative "Freedom Ballot" for an election to take place at the same time as the scheduled November voting. With this election seen as a protest action to dramatize the denial of their constitutional voting rights, close to 80,000 people cast freedom ballots for an integrated slate of candidates.Cite error: A
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On August 6, 1964, the MFDP held a statewide convention before attending the DNC; 2,500 people showed up at the
Ella Baker was the keynote speaker at the state convention. She did not deliver the kind of address that the people were expecting on voting and rights but made a statement about society:
I'm not trying to make you feel good. We have to know what we are dealing with and we can't deal with things just because we feel we ought to have our rights. We have to deal with them on the basis of knowledge that we gain ... through sending our children through certain kinds of courses, through sitting down and reading at night instead of spending our time at the television and radio just listening to what's on. But we must spend our time reading some of things that help us to understand this South we live in.
The state convention gave the MFDP confidence in their ability to effect change on the national level. They elected Fannie Lou Hamer, E.W. Steptoe, Winson Hudson, Hazel Palmer,
Those are the people who don't care. ... That includes the President on down to the governor of the state of Mississippi ... I blame the people in Washington D.C., and on down in the state of Mississippi for what happened just as much as I blame those who pulled the trigger. ... He's got his freedom, and we're still fighting for ours.
In the face of unrelenting violence and economic retaliation by the